The Problem with Healing the Wounds of Abuse

20 Aug 2019

This week we need to talk about healing the wounds of emotional abuse as we have not talked before.  I want to share with you some new insights that might just shed new light on the old problem of how you relate to others and yourself.

If you were brought up with abusive parents, you were taught not to love yourself, not to be resilient and not to be worthy.  You were also taught that you had to earn any crumb of – conditional – affection that you ever received.  If you then entered into an abusive intimate relationship – and how could you not repeat the only pattern you knew? – you learned to live in crisis management mode. 

You committed to the relationship with the intention of healing your wounded heart and painful past through love.  However,  you likely committed to healing a wounded partner first and foremost.  Through their healing from whatever wounds they had acquired before they met you, you, too, would be healed.

The thing about healing

We really need to talk about healing.  

It struck me that I have been involved in “healing communities” for more than 20 years.  After all that time, I have some quite conflicted feelings about healing.  

As a teacher of the Alexander Technique – which is a physical therapy not a healing modality – I have occasionally put my hands on a pupil (they are called pupils because they come to an Alexander teacher to learn) and they have declared themselves “healed”.  That never felt too good to me.  

Instead of learning the way that they could manage their bodies better, these “pupils” were  suddenly “healed”.  By me! I ended up feeling that two parallel events had taken place. I had started the process of imparting a skill.  They had experienced a mini-miracle.  

My experiences, on the fringes of the New Age spiritual world, suggest to me that there are a fair few hungry people around who crave miracles, find them quite often, enjoy a great – temporary -high and then return to their previous unhappy state, searching for the next “miracle” high.  That is definitely not what I have ever wanted for anyone that I have ever worked with in any capacity. As I see it, that is merely the “quick fix” that lacks staying power.

So, I am decidedly sceptical about the whole business of one human being “healing” another person’s life.

Healing is a progressive thing

What I do absolutely believe in, on the other hand, is providing people with the tools that they need – and can use for themselves – to generate their own healing.  With the caveat that healing is, always, in reality a progressive thing.  

When one burden lifts off your shoulders as a result of the emotional work you do, that may feel like a miracle. You may well feel better than you can ever remember feeling.  However, that is not the end of the story.  You are a recovering abuse survivor.  There is no shame in that, only honor.

There will be attendant beliefs  and patterns, or other hidden trauma and patterns, that still need to be worked on.   Even if you feel a lot happier, that is not the end of the road.  There is always more to heal – unless you are in denial.   

The only true end of the healing journey is death.  

 Until that time, you might as well keep going and getting happier all along the way.  You will still encounter road blocks, upsets and more than one rollercoaster along the way.  You will become increasingly skilled at overcoming them.

Healing doesn’t mean that you have ever transformed yourself into the perfect, god-like human being.  It means you do far better psychologically, enjoy more happiness, can soothe yourself when you need to, and can keep yourself safe as you give and receive love.  It likely makes you a nicer person to be around. Certainly, it does make you more your own person.  

Your lifetime project

So, you become your very own lifetime project – in the nicest possible way.  Not to the exclusion of all others.  However, you become your own priority.  Because it is only when you first don your own emotional breathing-mask that you can fully show up for another person for more than about 3 minutes.

Do you start to see where this all fits with healing another person? How could you, or I, with minimal healing experience – and quite possibly limited life experience – possibly heal another person whose wounds may be even greater than our own? Purely through The Power of Love? 

When that Love may well turn out to be an unhealthy little mix of,

  • running away from a wounding past
  • codependency
  • fear of introspection
  • inadequacy

and more, similar emotional handicaps.  That was me when i took on “my” horrible husband. I’m guessing it may well have been you, too.  

Without even knowing what healing entails and how to address it, we attempted to apply our well-intentioned naivete to another person.  The results are less than stellar.  Not least because our beloveds were looking for something very different from healing in the first place. Unfortunately, we were the last to find that out.

You can’t heal anyone without their consent 

The simple fact is that you cannot heal anyone without their consent and commitment to the process.  However well-meaning the desire to make another person whole and happy is, if they are not consenting then, sooner or later, you will have to face up to two rather awkward problems,

  1. The controlling aspect. What you are doing is trying to curb their urges, desires and unwelcome behaviors.  While there is a good reason why you would want to do this – and why I did, too – it shows up as controlling behavior.  Admittedly, this is quite crazy.  You try to exercise benign control over someone’s worst ways of showing up so that they won’t exercise destructive control over you.  But, still, control is  a thousand miles from healing.

2)   Their resistance. We have established that the other person involved absolutely does NOT want your kind of healing – or any kind of healing.  The bottom line is that they have discovered that pushing vulnerable loving ones around works for them.  It allows them to become more fully the nasty, destructive creeps that they are.  That takes a bit of understanding, from your perspective and mine, I grant you.  However… 

Most dogs love to roll in fox-poo, if they get the chance.  From where I stand, rolling in fox-poo is unacceptable behavior.  But it works for the dog – in the wild, anyway – allowing them to attack prey more successfully.  That behavior doesn’t have to make sense for you. What matters is that, in their minds, it works for them. 

Why would they want to get rid of a behavior that they believe works for them?

So, if you aren’t healing them, what are you really doing?  

The real name for futile healing

The real name for healing that is unwanted and unappreciated is “running repairs”.

You are throwing all your time and energy into doing running repairs on a vehicle that was never fit for purpose on the first place.  You were sold a lemon, in the first place.  No amount of repairs will ever make that lemon emotionally road-worthy.  

Working to heal another person may sound commendable.  Being an emotional repair woman casts the whole relationship in another light entirely.  A far less romantic – but more accurate – light.

And one last word on healing.  In my professional capacity, I help survivors of emotional and narcissistic abuse to heal. I have undertaken a lot of training and done a massive amount of work on myself and with other experts in order to be in a position to do so. I understand the healing path, I know the difficulties that women face in following it, I provide tools support, care and whatever wisdom I have – and I remain a guide.  Healing is the beautiful gift that you give to yourself and the world.  Don’t waste that gift by acting as a thankless repairwoman.  


Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

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